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Struggling with being smart

Hi, this is my first time on this website, and I thought I’d try it out. Before I start, I just want to let anyone if they’re listening know that I’m smart, sporty, musical; I don’t like bragging about it but I feel like I can’t handle it. I feel as if I’m always expected to do well so I tire myself and put so much effort into everything just because I’m scared that if I don’t do well in something people won’t like me or respect me anymore. I feel like nobody actually knows me and I’m just ‘the smart kid’; I really hate sometimes that I’m talented sometimes and consider just stopping trying and not care about anything anymore like school, sport or even friends. 


People sometimes get jealous of me and say kind of hurtful things behind my back or to me about how they hate how I’m ‘good at stuff’. I always laugh it off and no one expects me to ever be sad about that kind of teasing; they think I have this perfect life just because I’m good at stuff, so I feel like I’m not allowed to talk about the crap I feel and I’m only ever allowed to act happy. Adding to this is the fact I brought up earlier that if I don’t do well in something it’s pointed out and I put so much pressure on myself and people make fun of me sometimes.


Some other smart people in our grade aren’t going through this; they’re popular, and people don’t make fun of them when they don’t do well or don’t talk behind their backs about how they wish they weren’t good at everything.


This may sound like I’m just bragging and I’m honestly so sorry if it did. It’s just that everyone expects the people who do well at everything to be having an amazing, perfect life and to be happy all the time, but it’s not true.


If this made any sense at all, how can I deal with this? Thanks


Re: Struggling with being smart

Hi @dolphin56 !


Welcome to ReachOut!! Thank you for you brave post Heart


So what I am hearing is that there is a lot of pressure on you to achieve? It sounds like some of that pressure is coming from you, and I know this is something heaps of people struggle with. I am definitely guilty of feeling like if I don't succeed at something then I will be judged or not liked/respected anymore. I know this is all in my own head, it's completely normal to make mistakes and fail! And it's ok to slow down and not 'achieve' anything for a while if you that's what you need. But even though I know that logically, it's so tough not to let that pressure get to me.


If people only see the amazing high-achiever side of you sometimes they can have that (very unrealistic) expectation that your life is perfect and you're always happy. This is really hard, especially if they are also saying hurtful things about it behind your back Smiley Sad have you ever tried letting them know how the teasing really makes you feel?


You've taken the first step towards 'dealing with it'! You can be proud of yourself for sharing this, it's a really hard thing to do. But now that you have shared, we can get the conversation going and hopefully get some ideas from people who may have had similar experiences. I'm wondering whether you have told anyone else in your life about how you're feeling at the moment? If you're not comfortable opening up to a friend or family member, talking to a school counsellor could help too?


I'll tag some members who might have some other ideas. You might also want to have a look at some of our articles about school and study, I think this one on slowing down at school might be helpful.


@mspaceK @Bananatime04 @xXLexi_Lou122Xx 


- Hayley R/O


Re: Struggling with being smart

Thanks @TOM-RO  ❤️

I have talked to my parents about it and one of my really close friends who I know also goes through this sort of thing but not really anyone else. My parents have been really supportive and always tell me that it is good to slow down sometimes because everything doesn’t always have to be perfect in my schoolwork and it’s been a goal I’ve been working on for a while. This friend that I talk about it with we only ever text about it because I don’t feel comfortable opening up to her with other people around, but I always help her out and she always helps me out the best she can. It’s just seems hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that mistakes are okay.


I do know that when some people say stuff they actually don’t mean it and don’t know it’s hurtful, and I’m worried if I bring it up we’ll end up having a fight and not being friends anymore. How could I talk to them without hurting their feelings or me looking bad? 


Re: Struggling with being smart

Hi @dolphin56, welcome to the forums!


Firstly what you said made sense, and didn't sound like boasting. 


Being good at something doesn't mean that you're obligated to do or enjoy the thing. I know that this can feel almost like.. wasting a skill I guess, but it's better to do that than waste happiness by doing things you hate. 

Maybe you could try focusing on just a few things that you're passionate about?


I'm wondering if thinking about it in a different way might be useful?

Like, instead of saying that your problem is being too smart, maybe it'd help to look at it as your problems are things like high expectations, feeling like you're having to constantly having to prove yourself or something else.

I don't know if this'll work for you, but it might at least help you feel a bit better about that part of your identity, and more specific problems can be easier to solve sometimes. 


One other thing to look at is resources for burnout, which is fairly common amoungst smart people and people who've got too many expectations to deal with. If you do a google search of "how to cope with burnout" there might be a few good ideas.


Re: Struggling with being smart

Hi @dolphin56! Welcome to the forums!

It's really hard to manage expectations and it can feel really overwhelming when we feel like we've taken on too much. I think this is a really common issue affecting young people. When I was in school, I would sometimes arrive at school around 6:30am and not get to go home until at least 5:30pm because of how much I had taken on. I remember how stressed out I was because everyone expected me to do well.

Sometimes, I think it's really hard to be known as a smart person. I remember people in my class saying that they wished that they could be like me. But I had a lot of personal problems going on. It was far from a perfect life. A lot of famous people who have been known as geniuses also had a lot of unhappiness and struggles, such as Vincent van Gogh. You're definitely not alone.

It's really frustrating and upsetting when people tease you for being good at things. Smiley Sad I think getting the support of your family, friends and people you trust might be beneficial. Regarding the people saying the hurtful things, you could tell them, 'It really hurts my feelings when you say stuff like that'. Try to use 'I' statements rather than 'you' statements, try not to talk over them or make them feel bad about themselves and if either of you get really angry, you can just walk away. Whether you decide to address it is up to you, of course.

I think the other suggestions in this thread are really helpful! This article has some good strategies about managing burnout if it's something you're interested in learning more about.


Re: Struggling with being smart

Welcome dolphin! 

Just want to pipe up to say that school folk (usually) get over the whole "they're better than me" thing after a few years, so don't worry if things don't change immediately, it should improve later on. I was known as the 'weird' / 'smart' kid during middle school, but that changed in my senior years. I was still known as a 'smart' kid, but I was much more respected and people didn't seem particularly jealous anymore. I think I recieved that respect by making the effort to be friendly with people and be happy to help them out, and I tried to chat and do sports with the my other classmates to get to know them. One great way to get to know people (and vice versa) is to open up and share a bit about your own life during lunchtime or class conversations, if you're comfortable doing that. People see you're a genuine person when you open up, and you create this space for other people to share! The stories you tell don't have to be too deep either - even as simple as something funny, something about your childhood, or something about one of your hobbies, etc. If people are talking about similar crap to what you feel, then perhaps you could chip in and give some quick thoughts -- if you can push past that initial anxiety (you can do it!!). Asking your classmates questions is also great because it shows you're genuinely interested in them - what were they up to on the weekend? What do they like doing after school? Do they like music? What sports do the play? (Do they play similar music or sport to you?) etc 


Hope that helps! Smiley Happy


Re: Struggling with being smart

Hey @dolphin56,

Just wanted to hop on here and say that I definitely relate to a lot of what you're saying. I'm in uni now, but I had a similar experience when I was in school. It can be really hurtful when people tease you or make you feel bad for not being perfect, just because you're good at so many things.

In my experience, people often act this way because they're envious of what they think you have. Maybe they're not as academic, athletic or as musical as you. Instead of questioning what they could do to improve themselves or get what you have for themselves, they decide it's easier to tear you down or make you feel inferior in other ways.

I just want you to know that you deserve everything you've achieved, and you're allowed to celebrate your own successes. You sound very self-motivated, which is a fantastic trait to have. I'm wondering why in particular you worry that people won't like or respect you if you don't do well in something?
“Your now is not your forever."
― John Green, Turtles All the Way Down